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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 November 2006, 12:12 GMT
Orangutans perish in Borneo fires
By Lucy Williamson
BBC News, Jakarta

Rescue workers have saved more than 40 orangutans

Fires on the island of Borneo may have killed up to 1,000 orangutans, say animal protection workers in Indonesia.

The Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation says the animals are facing severe problems as their natural habitat is burnt away.

Rescue workers have found several dead orangutans in burnt-out areas, but have no way of reaching animals still trapped in the burning forests.

The fires have been raging across central Borneo for months.


One of those involved in the rescue effort, Pak Hardy, told the BBC that more than 40 animals had been saved after finding their way to the edges of the fires. Many have severe burns.

Others have been killed by local people after eating from the area's profitable oil palm plantations.

One of the problems, says Pak Hardy, is that erosion of the animals' natural habitat means there are few places for them to go to avoid the fires.

The teams have put up posters asking local people not to kill orangutans which are fleeing the fires and to contact them instead, but it is not working.

Four times in the last 24 hours Pak Hardy's team has been too late.

Threats to orangutans' natural habitat are largely responsible for them becoming an endangered species.

Indonesia's annual problem with forest fires is widely blamed on farmers and logging companies clearing land for oil palm plantations.

The fires routinely cause a smoky haze to settle over a wide area and have brought criticism from Indonesia's neighbours as well as from environmental groups.

Choking smoke covers Borneo

Indonesia smoke blankets region
07 Oct 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Genes record orangutans' decline
24 Jan 06 |  Science/Nature
Logging threatens Borneo species
11 Jun 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: Indonesia
18 Oct 06 |  Country profiles

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